Last month, ACA served as a co-presenting sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference. This is a gathering specifically focused on the safety, inclusion and well-being of young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ). Keynote and content sessions for practitioners and those working in the public policy arena were numerous. In addition to mental health professionals, community advocates and those who work for government agencies, however, there was an incredibly important group in attendance. In fact, the conference was organized for this group — youth who are LGBTQ.
For me, the Time to Thrive Conference is a powerful experience because of the nexus it creates for mental health providers, community advocates and LGBTQ young people who benefit by learning that they are not alone. All of us were under one roof and could learn from one another.
What I said at the opening plenary was simple: “You are not alone.” Rather than just focusing on the young students in attendance, I was also speaking to the many organizations and professionals who were there. What I wanted everyone to know was that the conference was designed to educate, train and create a dialogue among all who were in attendance.
I know many of you who work with clients and students make sure they understand that, regardless of the issue, “they are not alone.” Quite simply, they have you, as a professional counselor or counselor educator, to confide in, and they know you will help them as they face life’s challenges.
It’s one thing for me to stand on a stage and say “you are not alone,” but I am overwhelmed (and grateful) that so many of you follow this same mantra in your work with clients and students each and every day. I think the positive impact of professional counselors is amazing. In fact, you may not be aware of how your role, combined with those of your colleagues from across the nation and the world, results in protection and advocacy for literally millions of people.
So, now I am going to ask you to do one more thing. I know you are busy, but I hope you will agree that we need to make sure that potential clients, students, families, couples and organizations also understand that they are not alone. Next month is Counselor Awareness Month, and I hope you will join me in raising the knowledge level of as many people as possible regarding the good work that you and others are doing.
We have planned a number of activities and provided resources to make this the best Counseling Awareness Month campaign ever. Be sure to follow ACA’s Counseling Awareness Month 2015 coverage by using the hashtag #CounselorsCare on social media. You will also want to check out the social media photo challenge at counseling.org/CAM2015. While you’re there, learn more about our plans for national media coverage, our free car magnet giveaway and the 2015 Public Outreach Contest (you could win a free registration to the 2016 ACA Conference & Expo in Montreal). Watch your email for more information about this exciting month!